On paper at least, Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides this year contain fewer fancies than when she was top Festival jockey 12 months ago. She has some old favourites to ride at the major meeting, however, besides some new faces.
Online bookies LiveScore Bet have Blackmore at 4/1 to retain her Cheltenham crown. That puts her second in the market behind Paul Townend, who rode the most winners at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. With that in mind, SportsLens horse racing experts assess six of the best Blackmore mounts for this year’s edition.
The backing she always receives from Henry De Bromhead, where she is stable jockey, keeps her in the hunt. Last spring, the yard won three of the big championship races at the Festival including a 1-2 in the Gold Cup itself. As if that wasn’t remarkable enough, the same thing happened in the Grand National at Aintree the following month! Here are those half-dozen Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides she has to look forward to:
Honeysuckle – Unibet Champion Hurdle
Straight off the bat, Honeysuckle needs no introduction to National Hunt horse racing fans after her incredible unbeaten career to date. Quite simply, Blackmore rides the best hurdler in training right now. Already a dual Festival winner, Honeysuckle is the latest in a line of Irish-trained wonder-mares over the last decade that includes Quevega and Apple’s Jade.
Given her two wins here already, it’s no wonder she heads Champion Hurdle odds and betting once again. Opposition is running scared of Honeysuckle, the plum of all Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides, who is about as bombproof as a racehorse gets on all known form. A three-time winner of the Hatton’s Grace over further at Fairyhouse and the Irish Champion Hurdle, she is a worthy odds-on favourite to retain her crown.
Telmesomethinggirl – Close Brothers Mares Hurdle
The same connections are also responsible for Telmesomethinggirl, who landed something of a gamble in the Grade 2 Dawn Run at last year’s Festival. Another of the Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides that enjoy favouritism in the ante post markets on the best UK betting sites, this mare has shaped like the track and trip should suit.
Telmesomethinggirl went on be fifth in a red-hot 3m Grade 1 novice hurdle at Punchestown on her final start of the campaign. Her two runs behind Royal Kahala, conceding weight on both occasions this term, read well too. The form looks strong and now meeting off level terms, Telmesomethinggirl could well turn the tables. It’s 11/4 with LiveScore Bet that she does just that.
Journey With Me – Ballymore or Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Blackmore has built up good associations with a couple of Robcour runners in the De Bromhead yard. The first of those is the well-regarded and unexposed Journey With Me who has won maiden and novice hurdles at Leopardstown and Naas. As the first of those horse racing results shows, he beat current Albert Bartlett favourite Minella Crooner by three lengths on his bow in this sphere.
Connections must decide which Festival race to run Journey With Me in. Rather than go up to 3m and take on the same rival again, the Cheltenham odds suggest that the Ballymore looks the more likely option. That event could well cut up, leaving Journey With Me at 9/2 to capitalise on any high profile defections to the Supreme. LiveScore Bet are also 6/1 about him for the Albert Bartlett and he’s one of the more underrated Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides this year.
Bob Olinger – Turners Novices Chase
Another of the high-profile Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides this year is Bob Olinger, who seeks a second Festival success. Entered in both the Brown Advisory and Turners Novices Chase, Robcour and De Bromhead favour the latter over a shorter distance. Bob Olinger’s big Cheltenham Festival success in the Ballymore 12 months ago has been advertised plenty by the third home, Bravemansgame, since.
De Bromhead has kept one of his rising stable stars away from the highest level in two outings over fences so far. Bob Olinger followed-up on his chase debut success at Gowran Park with victory in a Punchestown Grade 3 in January. Tackling Galopin Des Champs demands more but LiveScore Bet go Evens about Blackmore beating the Willie Mullins mount.
Shantreusse – Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
One major reason why Journey With Me may contest the Ballymore and not the Albert Bartlett is De Bromhead has another contender who is all about stamina. That is none other than Shantreusse, who followed the same route as Minella Indo and Monalee. Blackmore surged clear aboard him through the Clonmel mud to land the same Grade 3 they prepared for Cheltenham in.
Shantreusse has an awfully long way to go to prove he is in the same class as those two, yet that didn’t stop horse racing betting sites from slashing his Albert Bartlett odds. This race has a history of surprises in it. Seven of the last winners had double figure odds. Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides rarely go off at such big prices now, because of her popularity with the wider public. While Shantreusse is only 17/2 with LiveScore Bet, he’s also unbeaten in two starts at the trip, so it’s not just about the jockey.
A Plus Tard – Cheltenham Gold Cup
Getting on the favourite in the Gold Cup odds, A Plus Tard, comes with pressure. However, this surely has to be the most motivational of all Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham rides because they went so close to landing the blue riband of steeplechasing 12 months ago. Only stable companion Minella Indo proved just over a length too good for A Plus Tard.
Taking last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup results at face value may give punters cause to wonder why Blackmore isn’t on the other De Bromhead horse. Robbie Power is in line for the ride on Minella Indo this year. If the A Plus Tard that demolished the opposition in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November turns up, then he will take all the beating. LiveScore Bet have no hesitation in making him their 3/1 favourite to go one better at the Festival.
Rachael Blackmore Cheltenham Rides Day by Day at 2022 Festival
- 3:30 Champion Hurdle – Honeysuckle
- 4:10 Mares Hurdle – Telmesomethinggirl
- 1:30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle – Journey With Me
- 1:30 Turners Novices Chase – Bob Olinger
- 2:50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle – Journey With Me or Shantreusse
- 3:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup – A Plus Tard
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